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Overthinking: Dealing with a busy mind?

Every day, the human mind is a bustling hub of activity, producing thousands of thoughts that influence our emotions, decisions, and overall well-being. Studies estimate that an average person generates around 60,000 thoughts per day. Intriguingly, a significant portion of these thoughts tend to be repetitive and skewed towards the negative. Research suggests that up to 80% of our daily thoughts could be negative, with around 95% being repetitive from the day before. This predisposition towards negative thinking can often lead us into the spiral of overthinking—a common yet disruptive mental habit. In the modern world we are also bombarded with visual and audio stimuli which has an impact on how much we overthink!

Why overthink?

  1. Overthinking usually comes from a place of trying to protect ourselves. It often involves key aspects of our lives like finances, health, work, relationships, and our overall purpose. We want to handle these areas well because it helps us feel secure. In this way, it can be a coping mechanism to gain control over situations causing stress or anxiety whilst actually also a defence against feeling our feelings. However, it's important to realise that constantly worrying about them doesn't actually make any situation better.

2. We don't overthink by choice. Chronic overthinking can result from automatic habitual patterns, where the mind is used to entering a loop of excessive analysis and worry. For example, you don't plan to spend hours worrying when you're trying to sleep—it's just a pattern that your brain has gotten used to.

Understanding overthinking and your triggers can help you to recognise when you are caught in your mind and help you to feel more peace and space.

How can therapy help?

It is often not as simple as 'stopping' overthinking. Therapy and an ongoing mindfulness practice can help with overthinking. When you're constantly overwhelmed by a lot of thoughts and ideas, it can be exhausting trying to find a balance between thinking and feeling clear and settled. Therapy can help you explore why you overthink and decide what’s really important versus what might be hiding your true feelings or experiences. It gives equal importance to all your thoughts and feelings, recognising that everything you experience, think, and say has value. This creates a space where you can carefully consider your overthinking, which can help you lead a life that feels more genuine, meaningful, and connected.

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